Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Club to Hotel.

"Tradesmen's entrance London Street." I wonder how many people recognise this instruction? This was the notice at the portal of the Northern Counties Club in Londonderry. Like many members clubs the Northern Counties is no more. Regrettable but perhaps inevitable. It has now been transformed into a small hotel under the style of, "Bishop's Gate Hotel." The objects of the Club were stated to be, "social, cultural and recreational, with the provision of residential and catering facilities for members."

Ordinary Club Members, all of whom were male, were defined as Country Members if they did not have their principal residence, office or place of business within ten miles of the Club. The advantage of being a Country Member was that you paid a reduced entrance fee and annual subscription. Females were not permitted to be Ordinary Members but instead could apply to become Lady Associate Members. They did not have a share in the property of the Club. The Club also had junior members. These individuals were aged between eighteen and twenty five years of age and they paid one half of the subscription appropriate to the membership they would have been required to apply for after their twenty fifth birthday. Junior Members had no voting rights and of course had no entitlement to a share in the property of the Club. Neither were they permitted to take any part in the management of the Club as indeed was the case with Lady Associate Members. Rule eleven permitted the election of Life Members and Honorary Members from amongst the Ordinary Club Membership.

The Club Rules also contained provision for temporary members in particular persons visiting Londonderry who were members of either Tyrone County Club or the University Club of Dublin. My recollection is that the University Club amalgamated with the St. Stephen's Green Club circa 1980. Reciprocal rights pertained, certainly with St. Stephen's Green.



Friday, 25 March 2016

The Good Old Days

Nostalgia may be the perogative of the elderly. If it is then time is telling me something. That is somewhat disconcerting if not actually frightening. I have to concede however that I indulged in a touch of nostalgia tonight. BBC 4 were showing an eposode of, "The Good Old Days," a programme which itself was a nostalgic trip back to the heyday of the variety show. The audience were dressed up in Victorian and Edwardian garb. For thirty years from 1953 this programme was essential Sunday night viewing. Mein host was the indomitable Leonard Sachs. His verbose and flamboyant introductions of the acts are seared on my memory. Even as a young child this was one of the television programmes that I was allowed to stay up late to watch. I am glad that I have those memories. At the end of every episode the audience gave a hearty rendition of, " Down at the Old Bull and Bush." Strictly themselves! Happy memories. Memories of a more orderly world, a slower world a world that has disappeared. Nostalgia.


Friday, 18 March 2016

Caged Fruit

Up until now I have foregone the benefit of a fruit cage for my soft fruit. There didn't seem to be a great need for one. It is only in the last couple of years that the blackbirds have garnered more fruit than me. I have two short rows of raspberries as well as three gooseberry bushes, three large blackcurrant bushes, a red currant and a blueberry.

I have determined that I will have the benefit of all of the ripening fruit this year. It seems therefore that I must invest in protective measures. I will need a 6m X 5m cage. One of my friends recommended that I should contact a firm by the name of , "Knowle Nets." They provide standard shaped cages with dimensions available in half metre variables. They can also manufacture customised cages. All of the cages are two metres high. Depending upon whether one elects for aluminium or steel fittings and the quality of the netting prices would range from £336 to £518 so not an inconsiderable price. I will have to check on the carriage costs.


Monday, 14 March 2016

The Millennium Egg

Friday saw me collecting my one thousandth egg from the coop. I can't pretend that it looked a great deal different from its nine hundred and ninety nine predecessors. The same elliptical shape, the same brownish eggshell and no doubt when I crack it open I will be met with the same orangey coloured yolk. Still I suppose consistency is what one wants in the matter of egg production. That said it would perhaps be nice, whenever the present octet of chickens have entered their celestial coop to replace them with a small selection of breeds which would give me a variety of egg colouration.

Depending on breed the shells of chicken eggs may be blue or even olive green as well as the more normal white or brown. The principal component of eggshell is calcium carbonate which is naturally white. If there is nothing else going on in the chicken's nether regions you end up with a white shelled egg. With some breeds and indeed most commercial hybrids the hen releases a brown pigment just before the egg laying. The origins of the blue egg seem to emanate from a South American chicken which became infected by a virus which prompted a genetic mutation resulting in an accumulation of a blue pigment. I have read that the crossing of a brown laying breed of chicken with a blue egg laying breed will provide one with progeny which will provide green coloured eggs. I wonder if Chas Darwin realised that when he was writing, "The Origin of the Species."?


Friday, 11 March 2016

A Very British Gin.


I fancied a tipple of gin yesterday as a prepandial. Unfortunately there was a dearth of juniper juice in the butler's pantry. That being the case I was obliged to source my evening snorter at a local off licence.

The usual brands hogged the shelves but my attention was drawn to a rather unusually shaped dark bottle with the name, "Bulldog," highlighted in white letters. The labelling promised me, "an exotic blend of twelve natural botanicals from 8 different countries along with the highest quality British wheat and water." It claimed a creamy and flavoursome taste balanced with natural poppy and dragon. I decided to invest in a bottle of this aspirational nectar. Unfortunately I have to report that I found it rather bland and soapy. Perhaps my jaded taste buds just react better to less subtle flavours.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Notes on Wm. McCorkell & Co. Ltd. - Part 2

Initially Wm McCorkell & Co Ltd held their Strand Road/Queen's Quay property as assignees of a lease which was to expire in February 1916. By the beginning of the twentieth century it was clear that larger cargoes of grain were needed in order to maintain the profitability of the Company. The Directors were prepared to invest in the machinery and facilities necessary for discharging large steamer cargoes of grain but the shortness of the residual term of their lease made it an uneconomical proposition unless they could acquire the freehold or negotiate a new and suitably lengthy lease. Accordingly on 25th November 1902 the Company wrote to the agent of the freeholder, The Honourable the Irish Society, requesting the grant of a lease in perpetuity, ( Fee Farm Grant). The response of 24th January 1903 was in the negative. The Court of the Society was not prepared to comply with the request. However there must have been further approaches and ultimately on 1st July 1916 the desired Fee Farm Grant was provided. This deed reserved an annual ground rent of £170


Saturday, 5 March 2016

Notes on Wm. McCorkell & Co. Ltd. - Part 1.


Like myself many people with a knowledge of Londonderry will remember the quayside mill and silos of Wm. McCorkell & Co Ltd. I always thought that there was a certain art deco look about the five storey concrete structure.

The company was incorporated on 26th July 1897. The initial directors were James Gallagher of 31 Waring Street, Belfast and William Bennet of 17 Greenbank Drive, Sefton Park, Liverpool. Prior to incorporation the manager of the business was a Mr David Thompson and shortly after the formation of the company this gentleman joined the Board and became Managing Director. For many years he lived in Sorrento on the Culmore Road before moving to Castlerock where his residence went by the name of Knockraven. The first of the McCorkell family to join the Board was Dudley Evelyn Bruce McCorkell who was knighted in 1933.

It appears that the initial issued share capital of the Company comprised 2000 shares of £10 each but by the time the balance sheet for the year ended 30th September 1917 had been prepared this had increased to 4000 shares of £10 and by the following year this had further increased to 6000 shares of £10 each, all fully paid.

Rather interestingly the assets of the Company in 1897 included a figure of £35 representing the value of the business's pigs. I suspect that they were kept so that any sweepings of grain did not go to waste. Immediately prior to incorporation the firm's assets included a quantity of claret in Bond. Clearly a very civilised business.